Box Office: 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Delivers $65 Million Debut, Sequel Announced

By Brent Lang

Paramount Pictures was so pleased by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’s $93.7 million global debut this weekend that it said it is moving forward with plans for a sequel to the franchise reboot.

Domestically, the film kicked up a sterling $65 million from 3,845 locations.

So cowabunga and cue the follow-up. Part two will land in theaters on June 3, 2016, with Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes returning again as a producer and screenwriters Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec (Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol) coming back as screenwriters.

The sequel announcement comes after the film managed to hold off Guardians of the Galaxy. Analysts expected the Marvel film to take a bigger chunk out of Ninja Turtles’s profits given that both films were expected to appeal to younger males. The comicbook film still managed to bring in $41.5 million in its sophomore weekend, a 56% drop from its debut that pushed its stateside haul to $175.9 million. That’s roughly in line with what the first Thor and Captain America films did during the entirety of their domestic runs.

Guardians is a great movie, and it’s always tough to come right behind a great movie,” said Megan Colligan, president of domestic marketing and distribution for Paramount. “Ultimately we played more like a family film and they played a notch older…The great thing about summer is the marketplace is able to expand to allow for these two films.”

Males made up 61% of Ninja Turtles’s opening audience, which was 45% under the age of 25. That was roughly the same as Guardians's debut weekend, which was 55% 26 and older, and 56% male. Ninja Turtles's success was fueled by two core groups. It appealed to both younger crowds and twenty-somethings who remembered the original 1990s television show, films and toylines with fondness.

“A lot of it was nostalgia,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Rentrak. “There is a generational affection for these characters.”

Ninja Turtles was a big $125 million gamble for Paramount Pictures, which is trying to demonstrate to its corporate leaders at Viacom that it can pull off big-screen synergy. In the case of Ninja Turtles, that meant capitalizing on the highly rated cartoon reboot that was overseen by Nickelodeon, another Viacom property.

“This is a really important property for all of Viacom,” said Colligan. “The show is a big hit, and in terms of the toys and merchandise, kids have a huge appetite for it and really, really love this brand.”

A week after Guardians of the Galaxy broke records for the month with its $94.3 million bow, Ninja Turtles scored the fourth biggest August debut in history. In addition to the Marvel film, it trails The Bourne Ultimatum ($69.3 million) and Rush Hour 2 ($67.4 million).

After a summer of dwindling ticket sales, the box office rebound sparked by Guardians continued this weekend. Overall, domestic receipts were up more than 16% from the same weekend a year ago, when Elysium and We’re the Millers both debuted.

Disaster film Into the Storm received a tepid reception from moviegoers, picking up a disappointing $18 million when it premiered across 3,434 screens. However, the Warner Bros. release cost a lean $50 million to produce. The lower price tag and the CGI-heavy film’s potential with foreign audiences led domestic distribution president Dan Fellman to express confidence that the storm chaser film will turn a profit.

“It’s all about the bottom line,” said Fellman. “It’s never my wish to open up at number three, but I’m happy being there today looking at the competitive environment.”

Into the Storm’s demographics were noticeably different than the other action-oriented releases. It skewed female (58% of the opening weekend audience) and older (71% of the debut crowd was over the age of 25). Fellman said the film played in cities in the Midwest and the South, areas that are no strangers to tornadoes.

DreamWorks’ The Hundred-Foot Journey, the story of a high-end French restaurateur’s standoff with the proprietor of a new Indian restaurant, bowed to $11.2 million in 2,023 theaters in the U.S. and Canada. The film carries a $22 million production budget and traded heavily on the appeal of producers Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey. It’s a humdrum opening, and the picture will need older crowds to continue to show up in the coming weeks if it wants to venture into the black.

Summit’s Step Up All In, the fifth installment in the dance competition franchise, debuted to $6.6 million in 2,072 locations, less than even the studio’s modest expectations. The film has been received more warmly overseas, where it has generated $37.7 million from 34 foreign territories.

Among holdovers, Lucy secured fifth place with $9.3 million and now stands at $97.4 million domestically. It passes He’s Just Not That Into You ($93.9 million) as Scarlett Johansson’s highest grossing non-Marvel movie.

With less to shout about, the James Brown biopic Get on Up failed to capitalize on its A CinemaScore rating, falling 63% in its second weekend to $5 million. It has made a paltry $23 million so far.

In limited release, Daniel Radcliffe took off the Harry Potter specs and tackled the romantic comedy genre. What If, his stab at “meet cute,” grossed an estimated $130,000 on 20 screens in 10 markets, while Woody Allen’s Magic in the Moonlight expanded from 65 to 170 screens this weekend, adding $803,922 to its $2.4 million total.

IFC Films’ Boyhood, perhaps the biggest critical hit of the summer, continued to build on strong word-of-mouth. The indie darling expanded to 500 screens grossing over $2 million. Its total now stands at $10.7 million, making it the third-highest grossing Richard Linklater film, beyond only his more overtly commercial offerings, School of Rock and The Bad News Bears.

Correction: An email alert for this article mistakenly stated $65 million as a global box office figure instead of a domestic total.

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